Mixed Martial Arts is now an elective at Timberline Secondary School.
For the fall semester, 25 Timberline students have elected to take a three-day-a-week mixed martial arts (MMA) program made possible through a partnership between the school and Pure Martial Arts & Fitness gym in Campbell River.
It was a popular option when it appeared in the course outlines.
“About 90 kids selected it as a first-choice elective,” said Paul Murphy, the Timberline teacher who came up with the idea.
Those 90 names were whittled down to 25 as part of this first-ever offering of a program like this that Murphy is aware of.
An MMA enthusiast himself and a high school wrestling coach, Murphy approached Jodey Ingalls of Pure Martial Arts to see if he was interested in the concept. From there it was a matter of applying to the school board for approval. Timberline principal Kevin Harrison made a presentation to the board of school trustees which approved the course.
In all, it took three months from concept to approval and from September to January, the students will be starting their day three days a week at Pure Martial Arts’ gym on the Island Highway across from Robert V. Ostler Park.
Although a high school MMA program is a unique concept, it may have been helped by the fact that the school district already has a hockey academy, Murphy said. In fact, the MMA program and the hockey academy will be sharing transportation to keep the cost down.
Ingalls, head coach and owner of Pure Martial Arts, is donating the gym and providing four or five MMA experts as instructors. Ingalls said he is happy to give something back to the community. Mixed Martial Arts changed his life as a youth and he believes these Timberline students will gain a lot physically as well as personally from being involved in the sport. Like all martial arts, MMA puts an emphasis on respect, discipline and fitness.
“I am looking forward to seeing how it affects the kids,” Ingalls said.
Ingalls has worked with schools in the past in dealing with the issue of fight clubs and other dangerously uncontrolled fighting. This program allows the youths to learn about the sport in a safe and controlled environment.
They will be exposed to techniques of Muay Thai, Ju Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts. But there will be no “live striking” or contact to the head.
The program has approval for one semester and Murphy and Ingalls hope it’s the beginning of something ongoing.
The students will be expected to show up for their sessions at 8:30 a.m., which is 25 minutes before school usually starts. Murphy said each family was contacted to point out that a serious level of commitment required from the student.
The students will see that Pure Martial Arts’ gym is a professional operation. Murphy said the program appealed to a range of students from rep hockey players to students who have never been involved in formal athletics before. There will be some who want to compete and others who are just in it for the exercise. There are also nine girls involved in the program.